What Smells Do Rats Hate? | All You Need to Know

Rats are one of the most unwelcome guests to all homeowners. They forage, leave droppings, and transmit diseases like hantavirus. But, worry no more, as there are particular smells that rats hate, which you can use.

What smells do rats hate? Among the scents that rats hate are:

  • Peppermint oil—Rats are sensitive to smells, and the minty scent of peppermint oil keeps them irritated. You can either dab some oil on several cotton balls and place them on the affected areas or make a spray by mixing two tablespoons of peppermint oil for each cup of water. After that, put the mixture in a spray bottle and start spraying.
  • Citronella—This scent also repels rats, and you can use it the same way as the peppermint oil is used if buying an essential oil. You can also light up some citronella candles to deter rats from coming to your favorite spot at home.

By further reading this guide, you will know the rest of the scents that drive rats away and how to make use of them. So, relax, sit back and keep on reading!

Can Odors Repel Rats?

Since rats have a very sensitive smell, various odors such as peppermint oil, garlic, onions, and eucalyptus, repel them effectively. Just make a spray out from any of these items, and you can immediately ward off these nocturnal pests.

What Natural Smells That Drive Rats Away?

Several natural scents drive rats away, such as:



Rats despise the strong scent of citronella. It overwhelms their senses, making it hard for them to go close to particular areas where the citronella scent is present.

According to a study, rats eat much lesser food in places where the citronella oil was sprayed compared to the sites where it wasn’t. Although you can plant citronella, it’s best to get the 100% citronella oil concentration and dilute it with water to make a spray.

To make the citronella spray solution, mix a cup of rubbing alcohol or water with 1 ½ tbsp of citronella essential oil into a clean bottle spray. After that, shake the solution well to blend and start spraying the affected areas.

You can also directly soak several cotton balls with the essential oil and put them strategically into the areas where you usually see rats.

Peppermint Oil

Another option to drive rats away naturally is by using peppermint oil. Its minty scent irritates the sharp smell of rats, making them steer away from your home. 

You can also opt for several ready-to-use products that contain peppermint oil, such as the Tomcat Repellents Rodent Repellent Spray. Just spray it directly to the suspected areas and reapply as needed, especially after rain.

Another way to use the essential oil is to mix it with water. Just add 10 to 15 drops of peppermint essential oil into a cup of water and transfer it to a clean spray bottle. 

Once done, you can spray it on the vulnerable areas of your home and see the rats’ activities changes within your property. You can also soak some cotton balls and put them in places where rats are nesting, and it will repel them effectively.



Eucalyptus is a good option if you want to ward off rats naturally. Its potent smell is heavily disliked by rats since it irritates them. 

To use, mix one cup of water and 10 to 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil and transfer it to a clean spray bottle. Once done, shake it well to blend and spray the mixture to the affected areas.

Chili Powder

Chili powder contains capsaicin—a highly irritant compound to rats, which gives them a burning sensation. 

To use chilis for warding off rats, sprinkle the powder directly in the rat-infested sites. This will irritate the rat’s nasal passageway when they inhale the powder.



It’s not a secret that garlic has that strong scent that is likely to stay for a day. It contains a molecule called allicin, which contributes to its strong smell.

Garlic also works best on other pests, like deer, rats, and raccoons. To use garlic:

  1. Boil at least 4 cups of water.
  1. Add 2 to 4 garlic cloves.
  1. Lessen heat and allow it to simmer for at least 5 minutes.
  1. After that, turn the fire off and let it cool.
  1. Once done, strain the mixture and transfer the remaining water to a clean spray bottle.
  1. Finally, spray the solution on the rat-infested areas. Reapply as needed.


Onions are comparable to garlic in terms of having a distinct and potent aroma due to their sulfur compound content. Similar to allicin, these sulfuric compounds emit a strong scent, making rats run away from the area.

To apply:

  1. Boil 4 cups of water and add 2 chopped onions.
  1. Let it simmer and leave for at least 3 to 4 minutes.
  1. Next, turn the fire off and leave it to cool completely.
  1. After that, strain the water and onions mixture and transfer it to a clean spray bottle.
  1. Once done, spray the mixture to the affected areas and reapply as needed.


White vinegar has a sharp odor that effectively repels many pests, including rats. To use, soak several cotton balls in the white vinegar and place them strategically in places where rats are often seen.

You can also dilute the same ratio of vinegar and water. Once done, shake the solution well and start spraying the suspected areas. Spray more than once until you see a visible result of decreased to no rats activities.

What Chemical Smells Drive Rats Away?

If none of the natural methods seem to work, you can opt for chemical scents, such as:



Using mothballs to deter rats is a good option. However, this only repels rats and doesn’t get rid of them.

It’s also not ideal to use them in an open space as their odor can spread to your home and could last for a long time. However, if you’re okay with that, just put several mothballs near the affected areas and wait for the result.


Ammonia has that harsh chemical scent to it. To use, soak cotton balls or rags in ammonia and put them in a container or open bag.

After that, put them strategically in areas where rats pass or stay, such as the attic, basement, windowsills, and sites where rat droppings can be seen.



Bleach has a pungent scent that helps keep rats away. This can also poison these rodents by mixing 2 tbsp of peanut butter and 1 tbsp of bleach. The peanut butter will serve as the bait, while the bleach kills the rats.

What Attracts Rats?

What Attracts Rats

Rats prefer to live above the ground and are attracted to attics, other high places, wood piles, clutter, dense vegetation, food, and water.

How to Keep Rats Away?

In addition to getting rid of things that attract rats, it’s also critical to have set some preventive measures. This ensures that rats will have lesser opportunities to enter your house successfully. 

So, here are some of the preventative measures you can take to keep out rats:

1. Sealing All Access Points. 

Rats will take advantage of any chance they get to enter your home. So, it will be valuable to search for any holes or wall gaps and seal them to stop rats from coming in. 

2. Store Food in Thick and Tightly-Covered Containers.

Rats can easily gnaw cardboard and thin plastic because of their strong teeth. So, if you buy cereals and other food items, ensure to put them into thick containers and cover them tightly.

3. Always Remember the Importance of Sanitation.

Good sanitation is a sure-fire way to deter rats from returning to your home since they love dirty and cluttered places. Here are sanitation tips that can help with your rat-free home objective:

  • Ensure that all garbage bins are tightly covered.
  • Throw trash regularly.
  • Just feed your pet enough food to avoid having leftovers that can attract rats.
  • Store dry foods in thick air-tight containers.

What Can I Spray To Keep Rats Away?

If you want a less hassle-free experience, you can opt for a ready-to-spray item, such as the following:

Eco Defense Mice Repellent: An All-Natural Rat Repellent

This product is easy-to-use, so you can spray it right away around your vicinity. Its main ingredients are peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, and castor oil.


  • More affordable than most natural repellents
  • All-natural
  • Effective
  • Safe for pets and kids


  • Require reapplication

Organic Essential Oil Rat Repellent 

The organic essential oil rat repellent is a mixture of essential oils, such as spearmint oil, peppermint oil, and cinnamon oil. The combo of three oil scents makes rats run away due to their sensitive smells.

Just spray the ready-to-use solution directly to the affected areas and reapply as needed.


  • Extremely effective
  • Organic
  • Safe for kids and pets
  • Pleasant scent


  • Expensive

How to Eliminate Rats in Roofs and Attics?

If you detect movements and tiny squeaking sounds on your roof, rats could be freely living in your attics or roof. So, here are some of the remedies you can use to stop these rodents:

Glue Traps for Rats

Glue traps are easy and less hassle to use since they don’t require any baits. Just place glue traps for rats in areas you often see rats running, and they will eventually glue into the trap, making it hard for them to escape.

Electronic Traps

Electronic traps like rat zappers are a more contemporary option to use in getting rid of rats. They are non-toxic, so it’s pet and kid-safe.

This trap is battery-operated and very easy to use. Just put bait inside the trap, such as butter, to lure the rat inside and place it in areas where rats often pass by. 

Once the rat gets inside, switch on the trap, and the rat will get zapped. You’ll know that the rat inside is dead when you see a blinking light from the trap.

After that, dispose of the dead body of the rat, then clean the trap if you wish to reuse it. Make sure to follow the cleaning instruction on the product’s label.

Snap Traps

Snap traps are the oldest yet still an effective way to eliminate rats. This works by putting bait on the metal-bar trap. Once the rat takes the bait, the trap will snap, killing the rat immediately. 

Related: How to Get Rid of Rats From Your Yard? | Identification and Control Guide


Rats are harmful pests that you need to eliminate from your property. To do that, apply the methods given in this guide or call an experienced pest control professional to deal with the rat issue right away.

List of Sources


Potential of Eucalyptus Oil as Repellent against Rats 

Controlling the Rat – A Community Effort

Diseases Directly Transmitted by Rodents